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Welcome to the Wok Show

Welcome to the Wok Show

In keeping with the theme of last week’s post about the Nalu diner I would like to focus on a new Chinese restaurant which opened recently in Prenzlauer Berg/Pankow. Arriving in Berlin in 1998 I remember originally being impressed by what seemed to be the wide variety of Asian cuisine. I discovered the predominant influence of Vietnamese food was due to the arrival of Vietnamese immigrants after WWII. Since after the war there was a dearth of able bodied German men the Vietnamese workers were imported into East Germany to help rebuild the country. In the Western half of the country Turkish people came in droves for the same reason.

As an American I considered myself somewhat of an expert on Chinese food which up until then I had assumed was generally made by Chinese people. Upon closer inspection however I found that most of the exotic cuisine in Berlin was in fact run by these two minorities. An Italian or Mexican restaurant was in fact a Turkish restaurant masquerading as Mexican or Italian. Worst of all my beloved Chinese food also turned out to be a farce. Vietnamese chefs were selling their local food and changing the name to sell it as faux Chinese food. The same went for Thai and even sushi. Although to be fair there is a wonderful sushi restaurant called Gingis Izakaya about two blocks from my house where a Turkish sushi chef trained for many years in Japan churns out wonderful sushi creations. There is also a fantastic Thai restaurant also in Prenzlauer Berg called Mao Thai which is authentic and well worth a visit and over the past few years Korean has been added to Berlin’s repertoire of Far East cuisine. On the whole however most of the restaurants in Berlin are run by these two minorities who put a slight foreign spin on their own food in order to sell it as something more exotic. Which is why I was so excited to hear about the opening of the Wok Show located on the corner of Kuglerstr and Greifenhagener Str next to the amusingly named bar Cocks Berlin.

Upon first glance it does not look like anything special. It is on a slightly out of the way corner and from the outside not much has been done in the way of decoration to even show what kind of food they served. All and all from my first impression it looked even less appealing than most of the cheap Vietnamese restaurants which seem to pop up every other month around the city. I had been told however that their jiaozi Cantonese style dumplings were worth the trip so trying to keep an open mind I entered with trepidation. While it was clear by the small size of the menu that this was a fairly new restaurant the main attraction was clearly the first page dedicated solely to the wide variety of dumplings. My favorite are the Saxian, filled with pork, shrimp, chives and eggs but they also come with a variety of pork, lamb as well as vegetarian offerings. They come in two sizes, 20 or 40, which seems excessive but when I saw the prices my jaw dropped. The Saxian are the most expensive and they cost 6.50 Euro for 20 and 12 Euro for 40 steamed and 7.50 and 13.50 fried. The mix of soy, vinegar and chili that is served on the side is essential and some of the best I’ve ever had. Needless to say 20 has now become the normal one portion serving size of Jiaozi for me.

Previously my only recourse for my Jiaozi jones was Yumcha Heroes. Though they also specialize in and offer a good selection of dumplings it is a bit pricey. At 5.50 Euro for four dumplings it works out to about 1.30 per piece as opposed to .33 cents per piece at the Wok Show. One good thing that can be said about the gentrification of the capital is there is an increase in variety and quality of places to eat out. I’m not sure how they manage to do it but if you want the best deal in town for jiaozi the Wok Show cannot be beat!